Villa del Balbianello - A wonderful Lake Como Landmark
Image: Villa del Balbianello from Lake Como Credit: Checco2
Villa del Balbianello is an 18th-century lakeside villa in the wooded Dosso d'Avedo peninsula in Lenno, on the western shore of Lake Como. The villa's pristine garden has artfully pruned trees and carefully manicured lawns and hedges. Here, wonderful views of Isola Comacina (the lake's only island) and sublime panoramic views of the lake and surrounding Alps await you.
There are many publicly accessible breathtaking villas around Lake Como. However, visiting them all may be a challenge, depending on how much time you want to spend in the area. If you only have time to visit one villa, there is a case to be made for choosing Villa del Balbianello.
Why Visit Villa del Balbianello?
There are many reasons why Villa del Balbianello is a must-see location for anyone exploring Lake Como. First, it's right by the lake, providing incredible views from the gardens.
Image: Loggia Durini Credit: Dmitry Pistrov
Secondly, it's a real piece of Italian history, containing many fascinating items left by the previous owner, Count Guido Monzino. Monzino is known to be quite the adventurer, as the first to lead an Italian Expedition to climb Mount Everest. Many of his prized possessions, including maps, furniture, and relics still adorn the Museum of Expeditions on the property.
Movie buffs, particularly James Bond and Star Wars fans, will be happy to know that the villa was featured in one film in each movie series.
The Current Use And Ownership
Image: Villa del Balbianello Garden Credit: Attapola
Built by Cardinal Durini as a cloister in the 18th century, Villa del Balbianello is now managed by FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano (the National Trust for Italy). The villa was bequeathed to the FAI by Guido Monzino in 1988. It is now open to the public for self-tours as well as guided tours. The villa is also often used as a venue for private events, including photoshoots, movies, and weddings.
Opening Periods & Times
Villa del Balbianello is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (excluding Mondays and Wednesdays) throughout the year except February.
Buildings Within the Property
Image: Loggia Durini at Villa del Balbianello Credit: Essevu
In addition to the Villa itself and the Museum of Expeditions, there are other buildings on the property worth exploring when you visit. The first is The Orangery, where you'll often find a film about Guido Monzino being played.
Then there is the Loggia Durini, which offers stunning views of the lake and a sneak peek of the book-lined rooms in the villa.
Last of all, right at the bottom of the property by the lake, you'll find the old chapel. Now used as a gift shop, you can purchase refreshments, handicrafts and souvenirs from other FAI properties and other parts of Italy.
Image: View of Lake Como from Villa del Balbianello Credit: Elitravo:
The garden is one of the most spectacular situated around Lake Como. It features many beautiful sculptures dotted amongst romantic avenues and a variety of plants and flowers, including many shrubs pruned into interesting shapes.
One of the biggest draws of the garden is its stunning views of Lake Como, and if you are lucky, you may even find some quiet spots to enjoy the vast expanse of the lake and the hills surrounding it.
A Popular Wedding Venue
It's no surprise that such a stunning villa is a much sought-after wedding venue. Many wedding planners in Italy and beyond offer packages to make a wedding at the villa truly memorable. Nothing goes better with Lake Como than a Riva boat. The iconic Italian boats are probably the best option to get your guests to the villa for the ceremony. You can choose from many operators who offer different Riva boat models or leave this to your wedding planner, who is likely to be familiar with the best options.
Movies with scenes at Villa del Balbianello
Villa del Balbianello is such a visually impressive location that a few movies have used it as a filming location. Movies with scenes filmed at the villa include the James Bond movie 'Casino Royal,' which featured a scene with 007 recovering from an encounter with the movie's villain. The villa was also featured as the venue of Anakin Skywalker's wedding in George Lucas' 'Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones'. Another movie with scenes at the lake is the 1995 romantic comedy 'A Month by the Lake' starring Uma Thurman.
Ways to Get to the Villa
There are two ways to get to Villa del Balbianello: on foot or by boat.
Take a taxi boat or private boat from Lido di Lenno or any other city around Lake Como. A private boat will offer the best experience as it allows you to choose your itinerary and explore the lake in its full glory. Many private boat tours also offer stopovers at other high-profile Lake Como villas.
Free parking is available in Parcheggio Mercato on Via Comoedia, a 25-minute (1.2km) walk (with slopes) from the villa. You should only consider this if you enjoy hiking.
Due to large crowds, parking spaces tend to fill up quickly in the summer.
The Best Time To Visit Villa del Balbianello
The best period of the year to visit Villa del Balbianello is spring or autumn. Both locals and tourists flock to the area during the summer, so visiting during that time of the year means you're likely to encounter large crowds of visitors.
Frequently Asked Questions about Villa del Balbianello
Who owns Villa Balbianello?
The villa is currently owned by FAI - Fondo Ambiente Italiano (the National Trust for Italy).
How much does it cost to visit Villa del Balbianello?
To self-tour the gardens, tickets cost € 12 for adults and € 9 for children (6-18). Touring the villa and the garden costs € 23 for adults and € 15 for children (6-18). However, a private boat tour with multiple villa stopovers offers the best experience.
Is it worth going inside Villa del Balbianello?
Yes, there is a great deal to see inside the villa, including the Museum of Expeditions, where the varied collections of Guido Monzino are displayed.
Can I get married at Villa Balbianello?
Yes, you and the love of your life can tie the knot at the villa.
What lake was in Casino Royale?
Casino Royal featured Lake Como. Monstly from Villa del Balbianello.
Can you sleep at Villa Balbianello?
Villa del Balbianello doesn't offer any accommodation for visitors. However, there are other Lake Como villas that are currently hotels. These include Villa d'Este and Villa Cipressi.
How much would a wedding in Lake Como cost?
The rental cost varies based on the duration and other factors. You can obtain prices from the FAI site. However, the rental itself is just one aspect of the total cost which will include catering, transportation for guests (likely by private boats), decoration etc.